Area farmers trained in dicamba's use


Al Wood


By Chris Day
Multimedia Editor

Friday, February 23, 2018

Using the herbicide dicamba in tandem with dicamba-resistant soybeans is an effective technology used by some area farmers.

That's because dicamba kills weeds that have grown tolerant to other weed killers, such as glyphosate, also known as Roundup. Examples of those kinds of weeds include Palmer amaranth, a species of pigweed common in this region, said Al Wood Jr., field crop specialist with the Pasquotank County Cooperative Extension.

When using dicamba combined with a dicamba-tolerant variety of soybean farmers can control the weeds and not destroy their crops.

"This technology can be very, very useful," Wood said. "It's like any tool. You've got to know how to use it properly."

On Feb. 2, about 90 farmers from Camden, Currituck and Pasquotank counties attended free but mandatory training on the proper application of dicamba, Wood said. The training was held at the Extension building on McPherson Street and lasted about 90 minutes. It was conducted by Alan York, a crop science professor at N.C. State University. Similar training was also held recently in Edenton for farmers in Chowan, Gates and Perquimans counties. 

The training was required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the oversight agency for the use of commercial weed killers, because when not applied properly, dicamba can cause adverse effects, such as ruining adjacent crops.

"This is a restricted-use herbicide," Wood said, and the person using it must be a licensed applicator.

Dicamba has been used for several years. But past formulas of the herbicide tended to vaporize and drift onto nearby crops, killing them. Recently the major agribusiness companies that make dicamba retooled their formulas to greatly lower those risks, Wood explained.

Dicamba is applied as a liquid and sprayed from a tank that is pulled behind a tractor. The licensed worker applying the chemical has to document several aspects of the job, such as wind speed and direction at time of application, what type of crop it is being used on, among other information. The applicator must also retain copies of all receipts from purchases of the chemical.

"So, that's the reason for this training," said Wood.

While the training is required across the country but it hasn't been as well publicized in other states as it has in North Carolina, Wood explained.

"North Carolina is doing all they can to educate the farmers," he said.

That includes hosting about 30 to 40 training sessions at county extension offices throughout the state.